Greetings to new iSchoolers, and welcome back returning students! It’s a new year and a new semester is about to begin. This time of year has many thinking about the goals they want to accomplish in the upcoming months. In this post I’d like to offer some encouragement and advice for your academic and professional resolutions. I hope that new students especially find it helpful as you begin your journey in the study of information.
Resolution #1: Learn something new.
- We’re still a few days away from the start of the spring semester, but you can jump start your learning this year by taking an online course at Lynda.com. All current UT iSchool students have free access to Lynda.com’s expansive library of video tutorials. Whether you want to learn a new programming language (or brush up your existing skills), increase your proficiency in using a particular software program, or master professional soft skills, there is a course on Lynda.com that will keep your brain occupied until classes start. Learn how to access Lynda.com with your UT EID here.
- Don’t forget: iSchoolers can take a limited number of courses outside of the iSchool. There are only three core courses that all master’s students are required to take. Otherwise, students are free to build a course of study however they choose. Students are encouraged to take courses that may not be explicitly related to their intended profession. Taking courses outside of a student’s comfort zone can be an incredibly valuable experience and expand a student’s understanding of the interdisciplinary information field. Courses from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, the College of Liberal Arts, and the Moody College of Communication are popular among iSchool students. You can also find a list of technology courses at the iSchool and in other departments at UT here.
Resolution #2: Do more this year.
- Every year, one of my goals is to read more books. Some years I’m more successful than others. That’s part of the reason I started doing semiannual reading challenges on my blog. Writing book reviews definitely keeps me motivated to read more and I enjoy sharing the great stories I come across with other readers. Maybe reading more is one of your goals this year too. If so, there are tons of book recommendations on Info Portal from your fellow iSchooler, Alex Peterson. And if you do read a great book, magazine, or journal article this year, write a review and share it with us!
- Perhaps you’re looking to gain more professional experience in 2017. I’m sure that’s a goal on every iSchooler’s list of resolutions. The iCareers website is a great resource for finding job opportunities in the information field as well as capstone opportunities for those soon-to-be graduates. If you’ve still got a few semesters left until your capstone, projects are also a good way to build skills and experience for your professional portfolio. The IT Lab has hardware, software, and specialized equipment available as well as Teachers Assistants (TAs) known as “Purple Shirts” who can provide instruction on using lab technologies. You can also find tutorials for much of the software in the IT Lab at Lynda.com. Your time in the master’s program goes by very quickly so I’d encourage you to work on as many projects as possible, both in and outside of the classroom, in order to build up an impressive portfolio of work that you can show prospective employers when you go on the job hunt after graduation. You’re welcome to showcase your exceptional work on Info Portal by submitting a blog post here.
Resolution #3: Get involved.
- The easiest way to get immersed in the information profession is to join a student organization. There you can meet other students with your professional interests, participate in events on campus and in the community, and even network with working professionals in the field, many of whom are UT iSchool alumni! You may also get a student discount by joining the professional organization through the student chapter. Check out the recaps on Info Portal to learn about some of our student organizations’ past activities, and if you attend a student event this year share your thoughts on the experience here. Visit the Info Portal events calendar to view upcoming student events and easily add them to your Google, Apple or Outlook calendar. Also, make sure that you’re subscribed to The Insider listserv as many student events are announced there.
- Finally, don’t discount volunteering. As your fellow iSchooler Johnny Rovell said in this blog post, “Volunteering is an amazing way to give back, get involved, supplement your education, and make professional connections in your field.” Attending school here in the state capital gives iSchool students a wealth of opportunities to volunteer with amazing cultural heritage institutions, technology user groups and organizations, and state/local government institutions. If you’re transitioning from another career field then volunteering is a great way to test the waters of your professional area of interest. It’s also an excellent opportunity to network and build relationships with people who will eventually become your colleagues in your intended profession. Some volunteer positions entail working on projects and other skill-building opportunities which you can add to your professional portfolio as well. Win-win!
Best wishes for a fantastic 2017, iSchoolers!